Last week turned to out to be unexpectedly awesome. My parents were going to be gone back-to-back weekends so I decided to come home from school in the middle of the week so I could see them and celebrate their birthdays. Mom's was on Tuesday so I came home after my operations management midterm and had a fun dinner out with the family, then the all-family-event of opening the pool! I didn't realize that was on the books for this week but the weather had been getting nice and our trees were almost done dropping their seed pods so it was time to take the winter cover off and get it ready for summer. The water was a chilly 60 degrees though so no swimming yet.
That evening I started studying for my finance midterm which was the next afternoon (Dad's birthday). I was planning on driving down to Corvallis in the morning but then I got a message that our midterm was moved to online (since OSU had been having power outages and our classroom was without power). I was thrilled to have Wednesday to stay home as well, and quickly filled it up with plans: lunch out celebrating with the family for Dad's birthday, then my first plane ride with Kendra!
She and Kyla had early release that day so with the afternoon free and some awesome weather -- high 80s!! -- it was finally working out for us to go flying. (Living 70 miles apart during the week makes it really hard to plan these things!) We headed to Aurora and I bummed around taking pictures while Kendra went through pre-check. The plane she usually flies is a Cessna 162: a tiny 2-seater with just enough space in the back for purses but not much else. We strapped in and taxied to the runway with the doors open because it was so beastly hot in there (no AC!!); then she radioed that we were ready for takeoff, we shut the doors, and turned onto the runway.
The takeoff was surprisingly smooth (I'll admit, I thought in little planes you had to hang on and they were always terribly shaky) and the day was perfect. We toured above Woodburn a bit before heading across the Willamette, gorgeous green fields stretching out below us and 5 mountains clear on the horizon. It was great fun to fly above the high school and then our neighborhood and see what everything looks like from above-- we now have our own personal Google Earth images ;) Then we headed north to Hagg Lake, which we'd never been to but looked big on the map. It was a beautiful color too, with lots of people out boating since it was such a nice day. Kendra, the pro pilot that she is, did a fast dip to get us down closer to the lake and my stomach did not like that... I'm not used to these little planes and wasn't expecting to feel my organs jump up to my throat!
I started to get a little hot and semi-uncomfortable at that point since I had been energetically taking pictures out the window (clearly overdoing it) and the vents were not giving us much (hot) air flow. Plus the wind was pretty strong and we were tilting and getting blown around a bit -- not a fun combination. So we leveled out and started flying higher, slowly making our way back to Aurora. I started feeling better since I knew we were going to land soon, but then we got caught in "traffic". Since Aurora doesn't have a tower, the pilots just radio in when they are going to land and everyone takes their turn... but when you are a little skycatcher like we were, you get last priority and have to let all the jets go first. And there happened to be 2 jets and a helicopter that came in just as we wanted to, so we had to detour past the runway and let them go ahead of us. Plus we couldn't be close to them while they landed because their wind currents would be enough to pull us into a spin and (crash). So we circled nearby (while I am meanwhile breathing heavily and trying not to barf, while at the same time wanting to radio to the next jet that could he please let us land there is a sick girl in here!). The wind had been at 16-20 knots which was some of the highest Kendra had ever flown in (usually 10 knots is a lot), but then it started gusting. And we of course couldn't land if it was gusting because (a) Kendra had never been trained to land if it was gusting, and (2) it would tear the skycatcher to shreds. So that was comforting. Jk-- I had total faith in Kendra but I just really wanted to be on the ground!!;) Finally it was our turn and the gusts stopped so Kendra took us in on a shockingly smooth landing (yes I expected it to be rattling and bone-shaking). I could hardly tell when we touched the runway and by that point I felt much better already. Still, I was SO glad when we could open the doors (AIR FLOW!!) and I could stand on solid ground. So much appreciation for solid ground!
But still I am so glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat. It looks like such a cool life-- flying, being able to take a plane up on a whim, seeing the stars from the sky, going new places, meeting interesting pilots -- that I can totally understand why my sister likes it so much. I am so proud of her for putting in all this work to get licensed and can't wait to see what happens next for her, flying or not.
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.